The Church of the Table
This is an inspiring example of how a simple act of kindness to one stranger can develop into a self-sustaining, diverse and life-fulfilling community for the poor and lonely. Hosted by the Church but run by the very people that benefit from it, Fr. Graziano's reflection on his time setting up the Church of the Table offers a fascinating insight into the role that parish churches can play in fostering relationships, opportunity and purpose to those in need.
Some years ago, at my home, the Church of the Table began. At the time I was a parish priest and every day homeless people and migrants in need came knocking at my door asking for some money. I asked myself how could I best help them?
I was convinced that to give them money was a trap, because it would kill the gratuity in our relationship and make it little more than a transactional arrangement. It also wouldn’t solve the real problems of the people.
Our parish was already increasing its social activities, so I decided to invite these people inside and have a chat together, to share stories and so I could better understand their needs. One day, lunchtime arrived and I decided to share a meal with the guests that day: we started to have lunch and this continued over the following days.
Since 2010, every day, anybody who wishes to join for lunch can knock at our door.
"The Church, as desired by Jesus, is the home of hospitality"
(Pope Francis, 12 July 2015)